The modern workplace is changing day by day. Not only are more people working from home than ever before, but the construction strategies used to create offices are changing to suit the needs of a workforce that view productivity from a different angle to the previous baby boomer generation. The walls between co-workers are coming down, and office spaces are adapting to the technology, and innovations available in the marketplace.
All of this is a result of a growing need for “millennial-friendly” spaces. Companies are desperate to create places where the modern, and most significant workforce group can find the inspiration and support they need to thrive. Here, we’ll take a look at just some of the design trends that are shaping the workplace of tomorrow.
1. Building for Efficiency
Since the average millennial employee spends more time away from their desk than ever before, a desire for “workplace density” has begun to emerge. In other words, businesses are looking for ways to reduce the amount of space they use, and therefore have to pay for on a monthly basis. Personal workspaces are shrinking by around 30 to 40% according to studies, and not just because people are spending more time at home.
The technology we use is getting smaller too. For instance, because flat-screen monitors take up little room, we can enjoy shallower work-surfaces, without impacting productivity.
2. Simplifying Workstation Distribution
In a world where working patterns are constantly changing, and employees are frequently seeking more “flexible” schedules, designers have begun to incorporate desk sharing and hoteling strategies to help simplify the workstation, and accommodate more people with fewer desks. Rather than distributing office space to anyone with a high enough ranking in a corporation, designers are now building spaces specifically for function and need.
3. Balancing “Open” Creativity with Privacy
A lot of workplaces are moving towards more “flexible” open environments for their employees. However, it’s important to remember that the creativity offered by open-plan spaces, can’t be stifled by the distractions of noise and company chaos. Designers need to balance wide creative areas, with quiet private spaces where people can focus on key tasks and challenges. Building teams are now beginning to assess the unique needs of each organisation before they begin to create office space, constructing according to the requirements of the market, industry, and corporate culture.
4. Introducing Sustainability
As millennials become more interested in environmental friendliness and sustainability, modular systems are becoming increasingly popular. Many younger entrepreneurs ask for portable furniture and systems so that they don’t have to re-purchase expensive items when they move from one location to the next, and vendors are responding with the necessary designs. Modular office systems are now being created with raised floors, walls, and furnishings. Additionally, technology innovators are producing wireless technology and plug-and-play equipment which supports a constantly-moving, and frequently evolving workplace.
5. More Than Just a Workstation
Finally, millennials thrive on connections, which is why the office of the future is more than just a place to sit down and hack out a few spreadsheets. Designers are using well-planned furnishing and layouts to create social areas that deliver a different vibe to work zones. Workspaces today include a range of unique environments within a single space, all tailored to suit the needs of a staff member at different points during their day.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.